pmuellr is Patrick Mueller, Senior Node Engineer at NodeSource.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Embedded Gnome

The announcement last week of the GNOME Mobile & Embedded Initiative was pretty interesting. I hope this breathes some fresh air into the embedded space.

It's been a while since I worked in the embedded software development arena, but boy was it fun. I highly recommend, if you ever get the chance, of doing some software development in the embedded world, if all you've ever done is desktop and server software development. You'll never look at multi-megabyte jar files of classes in the same way.

I still have the first embedded board I got code running on sitting on my desk; a 403GC PowerPC board. 25 or 33Mhz, can't remember how much RAM I had on it, using whatever version of QNX was available at the time. I finangled an expansion board from one of the embedded hardware guys that had an 8 segment LED so that I could actually output something somewhere besides a telnet session. This would have been ~1997, so I had the obligatory live stock ticker running on it. In Smalltalk, of course.

I'm guessing that Apple's re-entrance into the embedded space with the iPhone has prompted this action, to some extent. Embedded devices are sexy again. I've even been using my old Palm Tungsten-C now and again, if I think I'm going to be out somewhere with free wifi, so I can Twitter.

And Mike Wilson pointed out that Opera is running on the Palm, and is interestingly enough implemented on the J9 Palm Java VM.

Down at the bottom of the GNOME Mobile & Embedded Initiative announcement page, under "Technologies Under Consideration", is listed "Java ME" (Micro Edition). Hmm. Wonder what they're thinking. My wish would be for CLDC, which is the smallest useful Java class library available for the J2ME space, and then add SWT for the UI. Not sure if the eSWT libraries have GTK bindings, but I'm sure that's possible. I certainly hope they don't select just MIDP, since it's so weird and low-functional, and certainly hope they don't select Personal Profile or Personal Basis as the rich GUI, because that's just a step into the past (AWT).

Glad to see things are 'opening up' a bit, in any case.

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